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‘Being gay does not define me’: Discourses of homonormativity in an LGBT youth group Lucy Jones, University of Hull 3, 18 th April 2013.

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Presentation on theme: "‘Being gay does not define me’: Discourses of homonormativity in an LGBT youth group Lucy Jones, University of Hull 3, 18 th April 2013."— Presentation transcript:

1 ‘Being gay does not define me’: Discourses of homonormativity in an LGBT youth group Lucy Jones, University of Hull 3, 18 th April 2013

2 StanceIdentity Speakers position themselves in response to concepts, ideals, social groups, personas, etc (Jaffe 2009) Theoretical approach

3 LGBT Youth Group Working-class area with moderate social deprivation 94% white; majority of minority ethnic population of Indian, Pakistani or Bangladeshi descent Ethnographic context

4 LGBT Youth Group Meet 6pm-9pm once a week in a local authority youth centre Land shared with the town’s Madrasa building Ethnographic context

5 LGBT Youth Group Ethnographic context Paige15, white cis lesbian female Ryan16, white cis gay male Bailey16, white & black racial heritage, trans bisexual female Em16, white cis lesbian female Kyle18, white trans straight male Tom18, white cis gay male Josh22, white cis gay male Interviews in pairs over one month

6 Rejection of queer Image: Jordy91, English Wikipedia LucySo if you had to how would you describe yourself then? PaigeNormal. Like everybody else. ‘Cause you are you’re not different it’s normal. Emma When I see that people still actually [are homophobic] I think maybe we’re not ready yet maybe we’re just throwing it in people’s faces and I think (.) I guess you’re not improving it. EmmaI get that we still have pride (…) and like I’m really happy that we can like have Pride but I’m not one who’ll go round and celebrate it ‘cause I don’t think we’re at that stage yet. LucyIs Pride important to you? I know you both do drag? RyanThat was my decision, it’s not because I’m gay. JoshI agree. We’re not doing it in a gay way. RyanBeing gay does not define me. LucyDo you fit into the group? TomThis is going to sound really really awful but I think I’m more mature in a way than the r- n- not mature but like less camp, put it that way.

7 Homonormativity Homonormativity = gay people are ‘normal’ and ‘like everybody else’ Duggan (2002) Neoliberalism = increased privatisation, decreased state support, increased individualism “…the publicizing strategies of ‘the gay movement’ are rejected in favour of public recognition of a domesticated, depoliticized privacy….sexual dissidence is rejected in favour of the naturalized variation of a fixed minority arrayed around a state-endorsed heterosexual primacy and prestige.” (Duggan 2002: 190) State-sanctioned gay persona (Johnson and Henderson 2005) Ideal queer citizen (Agathangelou et al 2008) Nast (2002): homonormativity allows patriarchal and racist structures to be reconfigured within queer contexts.

8 Assumption: non-white = homophobic KyleI’m not gonna slag off other religions because I’m just not but it is backward. Just a backward way of thinking and it’s not a healthy way of thinking either. RyanI’ve not come across one Asian – well, I have tell a lie - but I did not come across one Asian in my school that did not give me abuse for being gay. Half-Asians, correct, they were nice to me, ‘cause they don’t strictly follow their religion. RyanAnd the more ethnicity diversion you get in schools, the more abuse you’re gonna get. Because it’s different rules in different ethnicities erm it’s now diverse in schools there’s not a school you can say they’re all pure British. Emma Yeah like I went in the changing room and there’d be a few Asian girls and a few other British girls who would give me some real dirty looks. JoshThe thing that I think with religion and different people coming over from different countries and making it the way that it is, is if they want to follow their religion that’s fine but they need to adhere by our culture and if gays are allowed in this country then they shouldn’t say anything about it.

9 ‘Us’‘Them’ ChristianityOther religions BritishAsian/Muslim This countryDifferent people/countries Our cultureTheir religion Othering: negative identity practice (Bucholtz 1999) Asian group = wrong/deviant LGBT group = comparatively right/normal Oppositional identity production (Bucholtz 1999, Jones 2012) Only when identities are in opposition to something else do they tend to have meaning (Baker 2008: 121)

10 Justification for racist discourse PaigeThere were some gay school posters but they’ve not put them up. School doesn’t support it or- like racists if a white person says something about a black person – straight excluded, but when it’s gay it’s nothing. Emma The one time you turn round and make one racist comment God help you. BaileyYou wouldn’t make fun of black people or Muslims so why pick on gay people or trans people? KyleIf you actually went up to a Muslim person and actually said paki you’d get into trouble straight away but if it were a Muslim to a gay person and says homo nothing’d be done. RyanIf I walked up to [an Asian] person and said ‘you paki’, right, I would probably get arrested. Then if me and Josh had fell out I said ‘you fucking faggot’ (.) I’d get told off and that were it. It’s apparently on the same borderline but it’s not tret that way.

11 Homonationalism Homonationalism: “the emergence of national homosexuality” and global dominance of whiteness (Puar 2007: 2) The terrorists who attacked the tubes and bus in London on 7/7/05 were not long bearded, Hook handed, one eyed ranting lunatics in white robes handing out videos with beheadings of Ken Bigley on them. They were your next door neighbour, the son of the chip shop owner down the street, Jaz down the road and the local supply teacher at the primary school. They drove Mercedes cars, dated your sister and integrated into mainstream British culture. And it was all a lie. (cited in Wood and Finlay 2008: 714) LGBT Muslims in Europe largely invisible, no recognisable identity in Muslim or LGBT community El-Tayeb (2012)

12 Summary Assumption: Diversity will lead to a culture clash – this is the biggest threat to LGBT equality Assumption: LGBT people are white Assumption: Non-white people (particularly Asian people) are homophobic Awareness raising Homonormativity: how young LGBT people feel about queer culture and politics Homonationalism: the exclusion of LGBT people from ethnic minority backgrounds

13 References Agathangelou, A. M., Bassichis, M. D. and Spira, T. L. (2008) ‘Intimate investments: Homonormativity, global lockdown, and the seductions of empire’ Radical History Review 100, Baker, P. (2008) Sexed Texts: Language, gender and sexuality. London: Equinox Bucholtz, M. (1999) ‘Why be normal?’: Language and identity practices in a community of nerd girls. Language in Society, 28(02), 203–23 Duggan, L. (2002) ‘The new homonormativity: The sexual politics of neoliberalism’ In Castronuevo, R. and Nelson, D. (Eds.) Materializing Democracy Durham: Duke University Press, El-Tayeb, F. (2012) ‘Gays who cannot properly be gay’: Queer Muslims in the neoliberal European city. European Journal of Women’s Studies 19(1), Jaffe, A. (2009) Stance: Sociolinguistic perspectives Oxford: Oxford University Press Johnson, E. P. and Henderson, M. G. (Eds.) (2005) Black Queer Studies London: Duke University Press Jones, L. (2012) Dyke/Girl: Language and Identities in a Lesbian Group Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan Nast, H. J. (2002) ‘Queer Patriarchies, Queer Racisms, International’ Antipode 34: 877 – 909 Puar, J, (2007) Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in queer times Durham and London: Duke Wood, C. and Finlay, W. M. L (2008) ‘British National Party representations of Muslims in the month after the London bombings: Homogeneity, threat, and the conspiracy tradition’ British Journal of Social Psychology 47: 707–726

14 ‘Being gay does not define me’: Discourses of homonormativity in an LGBT youth group 3, 18 th April


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